10 January 2013, Rakhine – United Nations Development Programme is aiming to support resumption of income generating activities for communities affected by recent tensions and violence in Myanmar's western Rakhine State. In December UNDP organized a one-month refresher course on sewing for women who took refuge in camps for internally displaced people in Rakhine's administrative capital Sittwe. In addition to training the women, UNDP also provided tailoring equipment such as sewing machines and relevant accessories to help the trainees resume their business.
“I used to assist my elder sister who is a professional tailor. By using some new dressmaking ideas that I learnt in the training and by receiving sewing machine, I started my own business. Income now is not very high as everyone is struggling here but at least I can support my family to address daily immediate needs,” said Daw Ma Khin Win, one of displaced women in Don Taik Kwin camp in Sittwe.
“Support like this helps people to address short term to longer term households needs gradually but many families in camps still need to receive similar assistance to recover their livelihoods,” said U Than Tunn, UNDP’s area Project Manager in Sittwe.
Another initiative introduced by UNDP in the wake of conflict in Rakhine was the creation of immediate job opportunities for 215 households from 10 camps in Sittwe through cash-for-work initiative. Each displaced person who participated in the 28-day programme earned Ks 2000 per day for cleaning and rehabilitating community infrastructure. With the earnings, they were able to supplement purchases of essential household items or resume income generating activities.
Conflict in Rakhine has caused substantial damage and loss of productive assets such as farming tools, crop fields, livestock, fish and shrimp farms. Immediate support to restoring the livelihoods of displaced communities continues to be very important. UNDP hopes that eventually this support will go beyond addressing immediate needs and contribute to inter-community dialogue and collaborative livelihoods interventions that will contribute to social cohesion and long-term peace in Rakhine.